Monday, November 7, 2016

Laughing Gas Arrived for Birthing Women: It's NO Laughing Matter

We all want more options and more autonomy for women during birth. That doesn't even need to be said, but I'll say it anyways to make sure we're all on the same page here.

Nitrous oxide (NO2), or laughing gas as many people call it, is on the way to the U.S. as a lower intervention to manage discomfort and anxiety for birthing mothers. And while this might be less risky than other interventions or cascades of interventions, it is not risk-free. Worse, perhaps, is that we all know providers will not be taking the time to offer women real, evidence-based data to achieve informed consent. And when it comes to Nitrous oxide, informed consent could be the difference between a simmering cascade of problems versus an empowered approach to continued health after birth.

What is the problem with this intervention? For many people who are familiar with things such as epidurals, they might be confused or irritated that I have an issue with offering NO2 to women during labor.

The problem has to do with methylation. Our understanding of methylation and how important it is for whole body health is still in the baby stage. Researchers are still struggling to pin down all the ways impaired methylation damages our body, creates disease, and also leads to congenital defects and neurological damage in our offspring.

Over and over again, as more research continues, we learn that impairing the methylation cycle such as by experiencing B vitamin depletion has numerous health consequences. Particularly for childbearing women, impaired methylation can play a part in many of the common pitfalls after birth such as post partum depression, anxiety, psychosis, thyroid and adrenal conditions, fertility conditions, breastfeeding discomfort or issues, low libido, and autoimmune conditions. Methylation is necessary to keep the brain neurochemically balanced. Clogged or impaired methylation, to put it simply, leads to mental illness in the brain and inflammation/pain in the body.

Here's the shining moment: Nitrous oxide impairs methylation. It degrades your B12 stores and basically causes a train wreck in your body. (Basic study to give you a research starting point here.)

Does that mean we should all run screaming from it? Does that mean a woman should never, ever consider it as part of her birth plan? No. With proper education and resources, this kind of damage can be mitigated and/or healed. And for some women, when they are empowered with all of the facts, they might want to retain the right to run away screaming. And that is their right.

But again. What is easily the main problem in our birth industry? Informed consent.

How many women are going to be encouraged to use NO2? How many women will be assured that it is safe, easy, and cheap? How many times will doctors fail to remind women that NO2 impairs methylation, depletes B12, and that this combined with her genetic background, lifestyle, and current health status could trigger cascades that develop into chronic pain, illnesses, and mental health issues?

How many do you think? Let's be real here. Is zero real enough? Maybe one woman out there? Maybe if she already knows about MTHFR, methylation, and depletion, she might demand that the doctor divulge the risks.

But not many women will know. Not most. The majority of women are going to look at NO2 as a safe, easy, and cheap alternative to other interventions during birth. And they aren't going to be equipped with the basic knowledge and tools to overcome the damage of NO2 exposure depleting their B12 stores even more after pregnancy already depleting them, and with breastfeeding about to happen to create an even more demanding burden.

What can you do?
Start talking about methylation to your friends. Start talking about B vitamins and cofactors. Start talking about the issues with synthetic or bio-unavailable supplements. Share articles, talk about it until other women consider it normal and basic information. Spread the word now, because the new cascade of interventions is on the way and it's going to be a doozy.

If you're curious to see a bigger, spinning picture, check out my article on birth control. Childbearing women are experiencing multiple sources of methylation burden and impairment. It's time to break the silence on this topic. It starts with you.


With our family history, when my son broke his elbow, I knew
it was vital to avoid the routine NO2 given to children before surgery. We worked with his
doctor to create an alternative plan and I also provided him with a bioavailable protocol afterwards.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Shutterfly: FREE Personalized Stocking TODAY ONLY


Shutterfly released code STUFFED through November 4th to highlight their selection of personalized Christmas stockings!

Create your stocking and then enter the promo code during checkout to receive a FREE one. As is normal for Shutterfly deals, you still have to pay taxes and shipping. So you will be paying $9.99 shipping out of pocket.


Go here to begin building!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's Time to Embrace Holiday Traditions and Join Your Community

Before everyone begins hating on the Holiday-Christmas-Kwanzaa et al season, can I broach a thinking thinky here?

Although it's true that a large part of the promotion in our society is obviously to maximize profits, the act of anticipating and celebrating seasons has been around FOWEVER, Folks.

For those of us who aren't insane, and do NOT appreciate the end of life (aka sunshine, happiness, warmth, survival, etc), the oncoming season of darkness can be horrible. Back in the wonderful olden days, it literally did represent the harbinger of death, as many people became ill or starved through the winter. Once the harvest celebrating was complete, the townspeople needed to do a quick calculation: did they have enough food stored away to save everyone? Were their homes weather proof enough? Who was going to make it, and who was going to lose out in the game of life?

This age old process of creating festival after festival, holiday after holiday, entire seasons such as Advent season leading up to Christmas, then the Christmas season going on until February...it's all about keeping people together as a community, keeping them fed, encouraging people to be generous (e.g. to share food with their starving neighbors), and making sure everyone gets through the season. Together. In an uplifting way.

Look at Diwali. It literally translates to festival of lamps, or festival of lights. People gather together to celebrate the triumph of good over evil by lighting up the darkness, shooting off fireworks, and wearing new clothes. They pass out gifts and treats to their family and friends.

Look at the traditional Germanic Yule holiday. The emphasis is on feasting together, massive feasting. Look at Saturnalia, the celebration of the return of light midway through the winter solstice. During that time, again, everyone feasted together and it was one of the rare occasions where slaves were permitted to feast like their masters. A famous poet, Catullus, called it the "best of days."


The symbolism is clear.


Maybe the reality is no longer true in the strictest sense of the word for most of us in a developed country. Most of aren't going to die from starvation or lack of clean water, or minor infections. Most of us have enough money to heat our homes and buy gifts for our family and friends.

Not everyone, though. And these celebrations help us move forward, together. These holidays help us to stay connected with others. Whether for physical reasons, such as sharing resources, or mental reasons, which might be more applicable in the modern age. They give us a context and a reason to stay positive, happy, and relaxed. They give us a designated time to turn off our electronics, to visit another person in their home, to make human contact. Even on the darkest night of the year.

So when you want to start bashing the decorations and complaining about holiday music on the radio, maybe it's time to pause for a thinky. Maybe instead of calling human customs stupid, you can send a card to that friend you hardly see around because she's been struggling with anxiety lately. Maybe instead of saying these celebrations are a money grab, you can bake some cookies and walk them down the street to the elderly husband and wife who never have visitors. Or maybe you can just swallow your overall hatred and put up some decorations so people driving by on their zombie-commute to a dead end job can feel a little brighter for the day.

No, you don't have to wear an ugly sweater and drink eggnog if you hate those ideas. No, you don't have to buy slave-made decorations or put up a lead-filled, artificial tree if you want to stay true to your principles. You can still make conscious changes to embrace this winter season, to integrate into your community, and to embark on an ancient journey through the darkness just as millions did before us, though.



And for those who are recovering from Cluster Parenting Abuse, sometimes what people call narcissistic or disordered family abuse, it's actually vital to find a new way to embrace these seasons, with new traditions that are positive in your own family. It's important to reach out, to search around for a new and healthy community. Toxic people love to use the weapon of isolation, so that's how most survivors are when they finally leave (or escape). They are isolated, alone. Outside of the rhythms and support of the human ecosystem. Finding a way back in, re-growing a healthy support network, is another healing step on this journey, and it will take you out of the metaphysical darkness just as surely as these festivals of light remind us that the darkness is coming to an end.

 Just a thinky thought.

It turns out our little family loves to celebrate Krampus and St. Nick's.
(We do not lie to our children about these characters, and can all still have a good time.)


Related Resources

Holidays and the Narcissistic Grudge Read this one!
<-- :o="" br="" one="" read="" this="">
The Narc's Devalue and Discard

Why Narcissistic People Love to Ruin Holidays

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Attachment Parenting Begins in the Partnership: The Trickle Down Effect of Violence and Why You Need to Model a Respectful, Peaceful Relationship for Your Children



Attachment Parenting is all the rage these days, despite harsh debate over what it constitutes and how to do it right. Parents everywhere are educating themselves on the benefits of healthy, strong attachment in early childhood through responsive parenting techniques.

Although the medical literature is clear that violent parenting damages a child's developing brain and impairs systems from emotional intelligence to verbal ability, one area many parents overlook is the connection to violence displayed in the home between adults.

The dynamics of the adult relationship directly intersects with the parent-child relationship, not only due to skill set, but also due to expectations of behavior based on a worldview of either respect and harmony or control and punishment.

Put succinctly, no matter how gently and attached a person is as a parent, if a woman's partnership is filled with disrespect, toxic shaming, verbal abuse, or even physical abuse, the foundation of the home can still cause intense trauma and impair skill development despite her attempts to be a gentle parent.

October is Attachment Parenting month. This year, let's bring awareness to the bigger connections by breaking the silence on the taboo topic of violence and dysfunction in parental relationships and how it influences children.

We can already put together how a hot and cold home environment might still create opportunities for trauma, including compounded issues. For example, a recent study looked at parents who physically discipline their children and then attempt to be loving afterwards. What they found is that not only does the loving behavior afterwards fail to heal the wound from the physical punishment, but the change in behavior actually creates symptoms of anxiety in the children. And that's not surprising. Small children, unsure of adult context and intent, watch a loving caregiver go hurting them to loving them over minor issues such as not obeying or not eating vegetables for dinner.


Those familiar with domestic abuse and violence can quickly see the connections. One of the classic themes of violence in adult relationships is the way it flip flops quickly from good to bad. At the a moment's notice and for the smallest infraction, your partner might go from happy and loving to upset and punishing. And then after the incident is over, the person tends to become overly loving and attached, trying to say sorry, give a gift, and even pushing for physical love. This leaves the victim feeling confused, unsteady, and hypervigilant. It's not hard to imagine how this impacts small children.


As a parent educator who has promoted non-violent parenting for about a decade now, one of the most common situations I see is a family model where one parent is imbuing disrespect and violence into the home while the other parent attempts to act as a buffer, or otherwise tries to compensate and "clean up" the damage. This might even feel instinctual, to try to jump in to fix things and smooth things over, but it can't overcome a foundation of violence, and frequently leads to confused, unsteady, hypervigilant children trying to desperately guess what will come next. Love or pain?

Parents might be surprised to realize that this family dynamic is an established cycle, often connected to related issues such as personality disorders and substance abuse. Typically, one parent hurts the other parent and the child. Then the other parent goes behind him, cleaning up the broken glass, comforting the children, and lying or maintaining an image to outsiders. Her intentions are good, and her efforts are courageous, but unfortunately, the kindness afterwards does not overcome the violence. It instead creates a synergistic effect that breeds more anxiety.

Going back to that study on spanking with love, the lead researcher confirms: "If you believe that you can shake your children or slap them across the face and them smooth things over gradually by smothering them with love, you are mistaken." It's not a huge leap to go from the parent to the partner, and back again when it comes to surveying the damage of emotional, verbal, and physical violence.

Just as the damage from spanking children has been clearly and consistently shown in the medical literature, so has the damage from witnessing adults fighting and hurting each other. So much evidence is available, in fact, that it would make this article needlessly long if I tried to stuff them all in here. For more information outside the scope of this article, be sure to check out this website entirely dedicated to children who witness violence in the home.

The evidence is clear that whether children witness violence between their parents or are the target of violence from their parents, they experience a variety of negative outcomes, including anxiety and depression, lowered IQ scores, lowered vocabulary scores, increased risk of learning disabilities, increased incidence of high-risk behavior such as substance abuse, and even physical manifestation through chronic adult diseases.

Violence in the home is pretty much the one area where we have the most evidence of harm, and the most evidence of how ineffective it is as raising healthy and functioning people, yet many people are still strongly attached to violent and disrespectful methods in their parnterships and parenting.

At this point, some readers might be experiencing a rising sensation of panic and hopelessness. If you're in a home with episodes of rage, disrespect, shaming, threats and intimidation, physical punishment, etc, you might have sought out resources on attachment parenting specifically to buffer your children. You most likely have pushed yourself to human limits in your attempt to create a small, safe space in an unsafe home. And now you're reading that this isn't working and in fact can create additional problems.

So now what?

All partnerships need work. Whether it's a case of disrespectful shaming and door slamming or a case of physical attacks and stalking, both cases are still a spectrum of the same foundation of disrespect. If you're trying to be responsive to the needs of your children through attachment parenting, it's imperative that you extend this way of living and thinking to your own adult relationship. Some might recognize this as the adage of "fill your cup so you can give to others." It is viscerally applicable here. If you are filled with anxiety and resentment, that will impair your ability to be present and calm for your children. If you have your boundaries violated or mocked by an adult, then your children cannot believe you when you tell them their boundaries are important or valuable.

Attachment partnering and parenting go hand in hand, neither can be successful without the other. If any person is being hurt in the home, then all people are being hurt in some way. So even if you're sure you aren't experiencing severe domestic violence, this concept is still an important one for all of us to learn about and to spend time working on in our lifetimes. Just as we are always working to improve our parenting skills, we need to be working on our partnerships.

TherapyTherapy is obviously a common sense step for any situation. The common scenario I hear is that the other partner refuses to attend therapy. If that's the case, then go alone. Bring your children to therapists. If at all possible, look for a therapist specifically experienced in "dysfunctional family dynamics" as not all therapists have the same level of training and might waste your time and money. Go consistently, encourage your partner to go consistently, and create an action plan with measurable progress so you can develop a sense of direction for the situation.

DBT
DBT, which stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, is a vastly underutilized tool that can help anyone in any relationship, at any age and stage. That includes children! DBT is a multi-faceted therapeutic approach focused on mindfulness and emotional integration. The beauty of this technique is that you can learn about it privately and work on it in your own home. You can even find DBT parenting books, which should be a must read for any parents struggling with behavioral disorders in their children.

Standards
For those relationships mired in disrespect that are not tipped into the domestic violence category, a simple approach can turn your ship around quickly. Sit down together for a family meeting and lay out clear standards of respect for all family members. Holding yourself and your partner accountable can have a dramatic influence on your children, and develop a strong sense of trust and respect. Discuss together how arguments can be resolved without hurting others. Establish a code phrase that any member can use to diffuse a situation. For example, "I'm taking the dog for a walk" lets the other person know things need a cool down phase without resorting to withdrawal or rejection techniques. Some families designate the bathroom as a safe space, meaning if someone enters the bathroom, they are not to be bothered or chased down.

Connect the dotsLook for opportunities to model non-violent, healthy interactions to your children. When you and your partner have a disagreement, provide observational statements to your children. Don't hide your situation or lie to your children. "Your dad is upset about the schedule change. He let me know in a respectful way, didn't he? I really appreciate that. Sometimes people make mistakes, including me. When we say things honestly but kindly, we can talk about our issues without hurting each other." One of the frequent ways I connect the dots is when my young sons act violently. "She took your toy, so you hit her. But, hitting hurts the other person and doesn't get your toy back. You know that Mommy and Daddy don't hit you, and we don't hit each other. Let's try a different way."

Appeal to the partnerIn many of the cases shared with me, the partnerships have strongly defined roles. One person is clearly the feeler, and the other person is clearly the thinker. This can cause conflict because one person intuitively feels that disrespect is wrong. But the other person wants proof. Just as you might have had to provide all of the medical literature on spanking to show that spanking is wrong for the child, you can also provide medical literature on the detriments of witnessing disrespect in the adult relationship. Using a therapist as a third party mediator is often helpful in this situation, too. It's important to research issues such as gaslighting and projection because you might need to distinguish between a reasonable request for information versus an abusive tactic to control the situation.

When all else failsIf looking at attachment parenting through the lens of attachment partnering is a catalyst for you, don't shy away from the difficult path ahead. Sometimes, our fierce attempts as mothers to protect our children might also serve as a way to distract us and keep our minds busy. If you begin to see that your home is not safe and cannot be healed right now, then it's time to be responsive to your children on a deeper level by moving them to safety and taking a new path.

Whatever your situation, if you've been interested in or practicing attachment parenting, now is a great time to expand the concept and connect the dots with your adult relationships. And ultimately, all relationships. Feeling safe, secure, and stable in a relationship is vital for human health and happiness. From the inside out, and from the outside in, the more we see the connections, the more we can promote a consistent way of living out our values for our children.

*Please note, the pronouns in this article are set to the largest audience of my blog. Violence in families can and does happen no matter the gender or sex. Also, all of the hyperlinked articles open in a new page so you can access them easily. I encourage you to read every one of them!

Related on the blog:

Relationship books for gentle partnering

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Buy one entree, get one free at Chipotle: GO NOW!


Play a simple memory card game, enter your name and phone number, and receive a text offer for B1G1F from Chipotle!

*B1G1F means Buy One, Get One Free in coupon world.

Here is the link to play the game. You can get one offer per unique phone number!


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sometimes Sugar Cravings Indicate Low Vitamin C


We all learned about vitamin C deficiency in school. It's the infamous scurvy! Those pirates on the ship were totally losing it and no one knew why, but thanks to the wonders of scientists in the early part of the century, we figured it out and they all lived happily ever after.

The problem is, vitamin C deficiency doesn't always have to mean scurvy. You don't have to lose your teeth or die of simple infection to claim deficiency. The borderline and depleted cases have chronic implications for your health, too. And what's worse is that those go unseen and dismissed as getting older or just having a bad month.

When it comes to sugar cravings, you can find plenty of theories on the internet. And I actually promote a few of them, too. So I'm not writing this article to claim that other reasonable theories are wrong. Rather, I want to draw your attention to an overlooked reason that might explain some things.

Why would sugar cravings be associated with low vitamin C? Keeping it simple here, think of cell receptors. They are similar to keypads for garage door locks. You enter in the code, and your door opens. Receptors tend to only work with specific codes for specific substances. Sometimes, they take a few specific codes. Sometimes, they are only supposed to take one code, but they happen to be easily tricked by a look alike. This is similar to the issue between iodine and radiation for our thyroids.

When it comes to sugar (glucose) and vitamin C, they both are regulated by the same receptor. The GLUT-1 receptor opens in response to glucose and vitamin C, allowing them to pass through the gate so to speak. But, see, GLUT-1 likes to let glucose in first, and more of it. This slows down vitamin C, which could cause a downward spiral.

And that's not the only way the body can spin slowly out of balance when it comes to sugar and vitamin C. Researchers have closely studied how vitamin C interacts with serum lipids (aka cholesterol levels) and glucose levels. They've learned that vitamin C helps to bring these two levels into balance again. The big picture here is that things such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndromes tend to be downward spirals. The body pumps out insulin, develops resistance, can't control glucose levels, pumps out more insulin, resistance increases, liver and gallbladder start to pass out from the effort, and weight gain slowly continues, and so on and so forth.

What that means over on our side will help bring this together: Let's say you're experiencing some mild sugar issues. Maybe you're stressed out at work. Maybe you had a family tragedy. Maybe years of childbearing and lactation (both glucose based processes) have you tilted a little out of balance. You reach for sugar. For energy, for satiation. You begin to realize it's turning into a vicious cycle and a bit of an addiction. You eat more refined sugars, carby, starchy, processed foods. You need that quick energy. As you continue to do this, your glucose levels slowly spin out of balance, insulin resistance develops, and your organs start to get mighty tired.

At the same time...this means your vitamin C levels are being depleted! You're increasing your glucose levels, and keeping them high. That clogs the GLUT-1 receptors. And it slows down the hexose monophophate (HMP) shunt, leading to a weaker immune response. And meanwhile, you are already under chronic stress and your body is feeling inflamed and out of balance, so it needs maximum immune system efficiency!

You might be experiencing borderline deficiency or otherwise have low vitamin C stores if you show any of these symptoms:

  • Tiredness and weakness.
  • Muscle and joint pains.
  • Easy bruising.
  • Spots that look like tiny, red-blue bruises on your skin.
  • Dry skin.
  • Splitting hair.
  • Swelling and discoloration of your gums.
  • Sudden and unexpected bleeding from your gums.
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Poor healing of wounds.
  • Problems fighting infections.
  • Bleeding into joints, causing severe joint pains.
  • Changes in your bones.
  • Tooth loss.
  • Weight loss.
If you find yourself stuck in the sugar rut of crashing and then reaching for more fast, refined sugars and carbs, consider looking closely at your vitamin C intake. You'd be surprised at how much your body really needs if storage is low or in the face of chronic stress or illness. Our bodies do not make any vitamin C, we must obtain it from diet. To make matters worse, vitamin C degrades easily such as from heat, cooking, and storage. Obtaining a medicinal level of vitamin C from your diet means you need to eat tons of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.

That's something I want to emphasize here. I am on the side of eating a healthy, fresh diet as a default. The thing is, when you've experienced a trauma, or slowly brought the body out of balance with depleted nutrition, a default diet is usually not going to repair the damage. It's a healthy choice nonetheless, but you do need to look at targeted, high quality supplementation in the face of an actual issue. I can't dispense medical advice, and recommend working with a care provider who can develop a unique plan for you. I just wanted to highlight that eating vitamin C rich fruits a couple times a day is not going to address an issue that's been spinning out of balance in your body for months or even years.

This study here helps to underscore what I'm saying. The researchers gave 500mg and 1000mg of vitamin C to their participants. They concluded that 500mg showed no change. Whereas 1000mg did show change. To put that into perspective, one of the highest, easily available foods in vitamin C is the bell pepper. It has 90-95mg of vitamin C in one pepper. So you'd have to eat roughly 10 peppers daily to reach the level necessary to show beneficial change in this study! (Which might or might not be a great goal for you...I'm just providing perspective here.)

"INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSION:

The next time you feel an urge to eat refined sugars or to reach for a quick fix, taking more vitamin C in that moment likely will not help. The relationship between sugar and vitamin C means the issue is indirect. And switching to a raw fruit or vegetable that is high in vitamin C but also high in fructose might not help much, either, although it's a great way to begin developing new habits. This is true for orange juice or other fruit juices, too. Despite the vitamin C content, they pump a lot of sugar into your body all at once when you might already be struggling with glucose balance.

 A healthier approach to this downward spiral would be to start your day out with vitamin C. As you begin to replenish your stores, you might notice sugar cravings lessen. You might also feel more energy, clearer thinking, and better digestion. This is because vitamin C is super important for your adrenals. And so I've saved the best for last here.

Vitamin C is super important for adrenal function and health. When you realize this, you start to see why the lemon juice and salt trick helps people. It's often recommended that a person drink lemon juice and himalayan salt every morning when struggling with adrenal fatigue. Lemon juice = vitamin C! Your adrenals use up vitamin C when they secrete cortisol. The adrenal connection is a big topic, so I won't try to tack that onto this already long winded article. Instead, I encourage you to check out this writer. I looked at about 20 adrenal articles and found this one informative without being overwhelming or confusing. Check it out when you have time so you can continue to see all of the contributing factors to this situation.

Suffice to say, if you've been experiencing high levels of stress for a long time, your body might have burned through vitamin C stores. Which means the adrenals are struggling. And once your body gets low on vitamin C, it begins to recycle it desperately. This process requires using glutathione. Those of you who follow my writings on methylation health know why this is bad news. Glutathione is produced in the methyl cycle and stored in the liver to break down/convert/detox dozens of substances in the body. Low glutathione is a major health problem.

So as you start to look at all the different pieces here, you can see how the body experiences a slow, downward spiral that drags more and more parts of the system into the free fall. As each vitamin or mineral is depleted, the cofactors become involved. As one system fails, the back up goes online and then it begins to fail, too.

All of this is to point out a key principle that I hope you take to heart: When your body has been stressed, and you've been pushed to the max every day for many months and perhaps years now, and when your body demands that you feed it a fast fix of "junk food" or "bad sugar"...

You are not a bad person.
You are not suffering from poor self control.
You are not lazy, weak, or stupid.


In fact, your body is exhibiting an intense, carefully designed process to survive. It has operated under extreme conditions for a long time and it is still determined to do its absolute best for you, no matter what is depleted, no matter what is imbalanced. It is going to get up and keep going for another day. Your body is hard working, clever, and strong, beyond what you can imagine.

Stop beating yourself up, and start making small changes every day to give yourself the best chance at success. Start to make these changes not to continue to deprive your body even more, but to uplift, energize, and love your body all the more.

DO NOT:
Wake up tomorrow and ditch all processed or sugary foods
Suck down tons of fructose-based fruits and fruit juices
Tell yourself you will be 100% sugar free from now on
Call yourself names or play the blame and shame game

DO: 
Consider starting every day with a vitamin C and/or adrenal support
Slowly reduce or replace your quick fixes with small steps that work for you, such as replacing a candy or pastry with a raw, fresh fruit and a protein dip
Focus on increasing other food groups instead of trying to eliminate demonized foods
Meditate on how strong and complex your body is, and how much it has been working for you

Some non-medical-advicey supplement ideas...remember to always DYOR! (Do Your Own Research!) These are a couple products that I wouldn't mind taking myself, or have already tried. Don't overwhelm yourself trying to find the bestest. When starting out, take baby steps. Taking the first step is the best of all.

Natural Calm Plus
This product has a ton of magnesium, but rounds it out with cofactors including vitamin C. I've found a lot of depleted women and children respond positively to this product. This flavour also tastes good to anyone who generally likes soda. It does NOT have enough C in it to stand alone, but is still a great starter or addition.

Nutribiotic Electro-C
This unassuming bottle is actually impressive. I tried this one myself. It contains a good starting dosage of vitamin C, and also supportive amounts of converted calcium, magnesium, zinc, chloride, sodium, and potassium. I liked this plus the additional magnesium of Natural Calm Plus so I mix them together for a soda-like drink.

Kirkland Vitamin C
It seems 99.9999% of my audience shops at Costco, so I wanted to include this one. It has a good starting dosage, it contains a blend of bioflavonoids to help uptake, and it's cheap. Only downside is that you have to grind this one up for kids or people who don't swallow horse pills.

Lypo-spheric C
This is a liposomal product, which is purported to be better absorbed. It tends to be a lot more expensive. Some people swear by it, others don't notice any difference. If your budget allows for it, you might find it worth trying.


As always, I don't make any money on product ideas and am not affiliated with any companies. You're always welcome to donate if you like my work, though!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

B is for Birth Control and B Vitamins

You've probably seen the news by now, even from sites such as the New York Times, talking about the connection between birth control and depression. Judging by the thousands of comments around the internet, most women are already quite aware of what the scientists concluded: taking birth control seems to cause mood imbalance, especially towards depression and anxiety.

But, why? We could put the blame on several mechanisms, and really, most of the theories have merit. Messing with a complex endocrine function in our bodies has consequences, that much is obvious to us.

What I wanted to do today is focus on one particular angle. B vitamins. And B vitamins means methylation. B vitamins, especially B6, B9, and B12, basically run the methylation cycle. Now, you can find a lot of articles on the internet about methylation, epigenetics, nutrigenomics, etc. So I'm not going to move into the detailed, technical stuff. I want to keep this simple and easy to digest because I think the B vitamin angle is being completely overlooked, and this means women are falling through the cracks. To add to the offense, B vitamins are beneficial for hundreds of reasons, fairly inexpensive compared to other medical treatments, and can prevent or heal all kinds of conditions. So the idea that women are suffering with chronic complaints such as depression, anemia, neurological symptoms, fatigue, etc, and no one is saying a word about the B vitamin connection really "chaps my ass" as my husband would say.

Hormonal contraceptives (birth control) and hormonal replacement therapy (HRTs, often used for infertility or menopause complaints) can drain your B vitamin storage. That's the long and short of it. I'm not saying that using these products will always cause severe deficiency. It's simply an overlooked factor that can add to a woman's individual burden, creating a nutritional cascade.

Are you familiar with The Business of Being Born? Remember in the movie when they discuss how the woman is given pitocin, then given an epidural for the pain, and then the heart beat dips, so she's rushed off to a c-section? They called that a birth cascade. I like to talk about nutritional cascades on my blog, and taking birth control can be a factor in a nutritional cascade as it encourages the body to drain B vitamins. A similar situation happens during real pregnancy, too, so as to provide nutrients to the fetus. Depletion can also occur after birth in order to create nutritious milk for breastfeeding.

To make matters worse, most women are heavily encouraged to take synthetic folic acid and other unconverted B vitamins such as cyanocobalamin when trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. These low quality vitamins are difficult for the body to use, but they attach to the receptors, clogging them. Think of it as the same annoying situation of trying to get onto the internet in your teen years but hearing that dreadful dial tone instead because someone was on the phone. The body is stuck with low quality vitamins and that makes it harder to absorb anything else such as from any healthy foods the woman is eating.

When you pause to think about the chain of events in a woman's childbearing years, the cascade is obvious. A woman begins her childbearing years using birth control, which begins to slowly but steadily deplete her nutritional stores. She stops taking them momentarily because she's ready to conceive. She probably stops them only 1 or 2 cycles before conceiving unless she's experiencing fertility challenges. That means she goes from one depletion to the next.

During pregnancy, her body drains all available resources to the fetus. She obediently takes her low quality prenatal vitamins every day, clogging up the receptors and limiting the amount of nutrition her body can absorb. Then she gives birth and is exposed to some medications that can deplete B vitamins even more, such as anesthesia. She also likely takes pain medications during the birth or right afterwards, and they are almost always the kind that damage the liver. This is important because liver health is connected to methylation and hormonal balance.

Finally, she's determined to breastfeed, which is another slow and steady depletion as the body scavenges for any nutritional stores available to transfer through the milk to the baby. She takes a prenatal or women's multivitamin while breastfeeding, which causes more clogging.

Then six weeks after birth, she goes in for a check up that almost all childbearing women are familiar with: the birth control check up. That's what it is unless she has a very Catholic doctor or very natural midwife. She goes onto birth control 6 weeks after birth, while breastfeeding a baby and taking low quality vitamins. That means she has now hit the magical moment where she has assumed multiple burdens at the same time.

Do you know when Post Partum Depression (PPD) is most commonly diagnosed? The 3 month mark. Yep. She goes in for birth control at the 2 month mark and within one cycle, she's back in the clinic for depression.

Is it any wonder now that the cascade has been laid out here? How much burden can one hard working mom take before beginning to struggle?

If women were given full, informed consent about methylation health, the burden of various childbearing choices, and the risks and downsides of low quality vitamins, they could potentially prevent this cascade. A focus on bioavailable nutrition during the tough moments might really be just enough to help.

Even more concerning is the fact that B vitamin depletion is transferred to the child. If the mom doesn't have enough B vitamins, the child won't. Either due to exclusively breastfeeding, or due to using formula since formula contains the same low quality vitamins that clog up the receptors. B vitamin depletion in children often takes on many forms and is also easily overlooked or misdiagnosed. As an example, here is one article that discusses the issue of B12 deficiency misdiagnosed as autism:

"The signs and symptoms of pediatric B12 deficiency frequently mimic those of autism spectrum disorders. Both autistic and brain-injured B12- deficient children have obsessive-compulsive behaviors and difficulty with speech, language, writing, and comprehension. B12 deficiency can also cause aloofness and withdrawal. Sadly, very few children presenting with autistic symptoms receive adequate testing for B12 deficiency. Infants and young children are often misdiagnosed. Irritability or gastric symptoms of B12 deficiency can be easily mistaken for colic or gastroenteritis. The apathetic or dull infant can be mistaken for an “easy” or “good” baby, and “late walkers” or “late talkers” can be considered variants of normal development. "

So as you continue to hear about birth control and the depression link in the upcoming weeks, please take a few moments out of your day to spread the word to other women about the B Vitamin Cascade. Encourage your friends and family to research B vitamins, methylation health, and the differences between converted and unconverted B vitamins. If you've become aware of a potential B vitamin deficiency, make sure you are looking at higher quality supplements with converted forms, and that you're working with someone who is knowledgeable about methylation challenges. Health officials, the CDC, doctors, even midwives and nurses are not speaking up about this issue enough yet. And in the meantime, PPD, PPA, and PPP remain common diagnoses in our country, with thousands of women receiving a diagnosis every year.

The stigma of mental illness is still strong in our society, and it's often amplified for women struggling with a diagnosis alongside childbearing. Women often grapple with feelings of inferiority, of being defective, of not being good enough at motherhood. What an empowering and enlightening moment, for a woman to realize that sometimes, these issues are most likely not due to some inner defect or failure, but rather a mere level of nutrition at key points during her childbearing years. This can also encourage other women to develop a true level of empathy, as they begin to recognize that the difference between their mental health and the mental struggles of their sisters might merely be a lab value. And with the change of a value, with their own vitamin cascade, they, too, could end up struggling.



We can talk about this topic with our sisters and start to get ahead of this cascade right here, right now.

Below are some various medical studies and articles that help to create a rough picture of the connections to this cascade:

Pediatric Vitamin B12 Deficiency: When Autism Isn't Autism

How Birth Control Pills Affect Your Nutritional Needs

Mood disorder with mixed, psychotic features due to vitamin B12 deficiency

Chronic psychosis associated with vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Manifested as Psychosis Without Anemia

Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12

Related posts on my blog:

MTHFR and alcohol

Is folic acid the only and best choice?